Virtual School Meanderings

December 9, 2021

ALEC Doubles Down on Climate Denial, Voter Suppression, and Culture Wars

Always an interesting read – although not related to K-12 distance, online, and/or blended learning this time.

Breaking News From CMD

Despite losing more than a 100 corporate members because of its past work on controversial voting rights, racially charged issues, and climate denial, right-wing business lobby the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has now staked out new territory on all three in a remarkable shift to the Right for a group that is ostensibly focused on free markets.

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) broke stories about last week’s ALEC policy summit, including a new effort to punish banks that divest from fossil fuels, a push to rewrite the Constitution, and more voter suppression.

With the Southern Poverty Law Center, we exposed ALEC for quietly working with allied organizations to defend hate groups and prevent companies from diversifying their staffs and taking liberal stances on social issues. Plus, we obtained the latest tax records from Charles Koch’s foundations, and we published a thorough analysis of the nearly $150 million his primary foundation doled out in 2020.

Here’s the latest!

The Latest From CMD

ALEC Launches Attack on Banks That Divest From Fossil Fuels

At Friday’s ALEC policy summit, state legislative and corporate members unanimously approved a model bill that would penalize companies that stop investing in or financing fossil fuels.

Read More

ALEC Is Enabling Anti-LGBTQ Hate

ALEC is defending hate groups and working to prevent companies from diversifying their staffs and taking liberal stances on social issues.

Read More

Fair Elections and U.S. Constitution Come Under Attack at ALEC Meeting

The American Legislative Exchange Council kicked off its annual policy summit last week with a meeting of its secret working group on election suppression and gerrymandering strategies, and an “Academy” on right-wing plans to rewrite the U.S. Constitution.

Read More

We Need Your Help!

CMD depends on your generous contributions. Please consider donating today to help us expose the nefarious activities of ALEC and Koch.

Thank you!

If you’d like to send us a check, please mail it to:

Center for Media and Democracy
P.O. Box 259010
Madison, WI 53725-9010

Bari Weiss’ New “Fiercely Independent” University Closely Tied to Right-Wing Koch Network

A group of jilted writers, “canceled” professors, and right-wing think tank fellows, some with links to fossil fuel magnate Charles Koch, is planning to start a university dedicated to “truth.”

Read More

Koch Network Makes Rare U.S. Senate Primary Endorsement in Missouri

One of the key 2022 contests for control of the U.S. Senate is the open seat in Missouri, and Americans for Prosperity has already picked its candidate for the GOP primary next August, a full nine months away.

Read More

Koch Spent Nearly $150 Million in 2020 to Extend His Influence and Promote His Agenda

The Charles Koch Foundation and Charles Koch Institute paid out $149.2 million in grants in 2020 to universities, right-wing policy, litigation, and advocacy groups, and other causes, the latest IRS filings obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy detail.

Read More

CMD Around the Web

Senior Investigative Reporter Alex Kotch talked with popular YouTube news show The Rational National about his story on Bari Weiss’ right-wing university.

Here’s the transcript of U.S. Sen. Shelton Whitehouse’s speech on “amicus flotillas,” which cites our follow-the-money reporting on the coordinated amicus briefs that right-wing think policy organizations send to the Supreme Court.

CMD’s work was cited in local and national outlets:

Thank you for supporting the Center for Media and Democracy and reading our work at Exposed by CMD.

Arn H. Pearson
Executive Director
CMD is a 501(c)(3) national watchdog and media group that conducts in-depth investigations into corruption and the undue influence of corporations on media and democracy. Our work is regularly cited by news outlets, policymakers, and grassroots activists working to build a more sustainable future and just society. CMD is reader-supportedPlease make your tax-deductible donation today. Thank you!

Follow us on social!

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Center for Media and Democracy
P.O. Box 259010  | Madison, Wisconsin 53725-9010
608-260-9713 | editor@prwatch.org
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November 24, 2021

DonorsTrust Gives $600,000 to White Nationalist Hate Group, and other news from CMD I

An update from the folks at the Center for Media and Democracy.

This Week at CMD

Last week, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) obtained the latest tax records from DonorsTrust, a popular funding vehicle of GOP megadonors such as Charles Koch and Robert Mercer, and exposed its funding of advocacy groups, media outlets, extremists, climate deniers, and other tax-exempt organizations that make up America’s right-wing infrastructure.

Most shocking was DonorsTrust’s continued funding of white nationalist hate groups. Last year, the fund bankrolled one of the most notorious white nationalist organizations, American Renaissance, after sending a massive $1.5 million to the equally infamous VARE Foundation the year before. DonorsTrust is the biggest known funder of white nationalist hate in the United States, our research has found.

We continue to cover the American Legislative Exchange Council’s voter suppression operation and the COP-26 climate talks. Plus, we’ve got new stories about Koch Industries’ solar energy contradictions and about the funding behind the secretive Council for National Policy.

Here’s the latest!

The Latest From CMD

DonorsTrust Gives $600k Donation to White Nationalist Hate Group

DonorsTrust, “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement,” gave an unprecedented $600,000 to infamous white nationalist Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance in 2020.

Read More

“Dark Money ATM” Pumped Over $137 Million into Right-Wing Groups in 2020

Spurred by $158 million from one secret donor, DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund pumped a record amount of money into right-wing campaigns to remake the Supreme Court, spread election and climate disinformation, and support extremists last year.

Read More

This Coming Tuesday is GIVING TUESDAY!

A Day of Generosity Dedicated to Bettering Our Communities and Our World

Between the ongoing pandemic, the Jan. 6 insurrection, and the nonstop assaults on our voting rights, this has been a very challenging year.

But rest assured that CMD is fighting tirelessly to counter the forces of dark money and disinformation seeking to distort our democracy and block climate progress, racial justice, and affordable health care.

So this year, on Giving Tuesday (or at any time up to #GivingTuesday, if you prefer!), please support our award-winning investigations by giving all you can!

Together we can make a difference!

Thank you!

If you’d like to send us a check, please mail it to:

Center for Media and Democracy
P.O. Box 259010
Madison, WI 53725-9010

Koch Joins Solar Industry Association While Fighting Solar Expansion

Koch Industries, one of the nation’s largest carbon emitters, plans solar developments and joins a solar industry lobbying group, but it funds groups that continue their fight against residential and commercial solar.

Read More

ALEC “Academy” Featured a Who’s Who of Voter Suppression Leaders

While the July 26-28 session was ostensibly led by the dark money group Honest Elections Project, it was organized, hosted, and bankrolled by ALEC, despite repeated claims by its CEO, Lisa Nelson, that the group does not work on voting issues.

Read More

Revealed: Council for National Policy 40th Anniversary Funders

A mix of high-powered lawyers, pastors, and corporate leaders funded the Council for National Policy’s 40th Anniversary celebration in May.

Read More

Dispatches from the COP26 Climate Talks in Glasgow

Alex Carlin reports about his observations at the United Nations climate conference.

Read More

CMD Around the Web

CMD Research Director David Armiak appeared on Madison, Wisconsin’s WORT FM to discuss the Right’s obsession with critical race theory.

Senior Investigative Reporter Alex Kotch spoke on the Maine Challenge video program about how the Big Lie of mass voter fraud originated, was financed, and spread.

  • The Intercept: House Coronavirus Committee Launches Investigation Into Organizations Pushing Hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin.
  • Media Matters: House committee to investigate ivermectin racket pushed by two fixtures of right-wing media.
  • The Daily Beast (written by U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse): How Russian Hackers Helped Expose the Right-Wing Dark Money Corrupting Our Courts.
  • The Daily Beast: The GOP Dark Money Group Giving Big to White Supremacists.
  • Byline Times: The Fantasy of War: The Far Right & the Military.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) credited CMD’s dark money research in his latest speech on right-wing “Amicus Flotillas.”

Thank you for supporting the Center for Media and Democracy and reading our work at Exposed by CMD.

Wishing you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Arn H. Pearson
Executive Director
CMD is a 501(c)(3) national watchdog and media group that conducts in-depth investigations into corruption and the undue influence of corporations on media and democracy. Our work is regularly cited by news outlets, policymakers, and grassroots activists working to build a more sustainable future and just society. CMD is reader-supportedPlease make your tax-deductible donation today. Thank you!

Follow us on social!

Subscribe
Donate
Our Work
Center for Media and Democracy
P.O. Box 259010  | Madison, Wisconsin 53725-9010
608-260-9713 | editor@prwatch.org
Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your web browser

November 3, 2021

Turning Point USA Raising Millions to Fight Culture War, ALEC Extremists, and More from CMD

Always an important read.

This Week at CMD

Charlie Kirk’s right-wing, Trump-aligned campus group Turning Point USA is looking to fan the flames of America’s culture wars, a 2021 donor prospectus obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) indicates. The group is seeking more than $40 million to escalate its efforts to create outrage over the teaching of systemic racism, demonize the Left, fight mask and vaccine mandates, and politicize conservative churches, among other toxic activities, we report.

We continue to cover the unsavory ties of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the right-wing, corporate pay-to-play bill-writing network. Our latest on the group includes the indictment of an ALEC legislative leader on campaign finance conspiracy charges and a secretary of state primary in Arizona where two ALEC voter suppressors face off.

Here’s the latest!

The Latest From CMD

Turning Point USA Seeks $43 Million to Escalate the Right’s Culture War in American Schools

The Trump-aligned nonprofit pitches a “Systematic Effort” to “Inspire Our Kids [to] Love America Again” in investor prospectus obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy.

Read More

ALEC Leader Indicted for Campaign Finance Conspiracy

Tennessee state Sen. Brian Kelsey, a state chair and national board member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, allegedly used illegal contributions to further his campaign for Congress in 2016.

Read More

ALEC Voter Suppressors Square Off in GOP Primary for Arizona Secretary of State

Both leading candidates in the Republican primary for secretary of state in Arizona support voter suppression legislation, and one is an insurrectionist backed by Trump.

Read More

We Need Your Help!

CMD depends on your generous contributions. Please consider donating today to help us uncover the Right’s corruption and secret strategies.

Thank you!

If you’d like to send us a check, please mail it to:

Center for Media and Democracy
P.O. Box 259010
Madison, WI 53725-9010

CMD Around the Web

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) cited our work in his article for the Yale Law Journal, “A Flood of Judicial Lobbying: Amicus Influence and Funding Transparency.”

Investigative reporter Robert O’Harrow cited our work in his Washington Post Magazine longread on the Council for National Policy, “God, Trump, and the Closed-Door World of a Major Conservative Group.”

Related: We obtained and published remarks by Edward Feulner, the founder of the Heritage Foundation, from the Council for National Policy’s 40th Anniversary event earlier this year.

The Global Center for Climate Justice interviewed CMD Research Director David Armiak for a piece, “The Tentacles of Fossil Fuel Interests Reach Far into U.S. Democracy.”

More local, state, and national outlets cited our recent work.

  • Common Dreams: Head of Koch-Tied Group Urges Sinema to ‘Stay Strong’ as She Opposes Tax Hikes on Rich
  • The Guardian: Money and misinformation: how Turning Point USA became a formidable pro-Trump force
  • Media Matters: Charlie Kirk’s venues and sponsors need to know what they’re getting involved with
  • The Progressive: Don’t Mistake Today’s School Board Protests for a Grassroots Campaign
  • Truthout republished our story on the Arizona secretary of state race.
  • Unicorn Riot: ​​School Board Disruptions Escalate, Funded By Conservative Dark Money
Thank you for supporting the Center for Media and Democracy and reading our work at Exposed by CMD! Have a great week.

Arn H. Pearson
Executive Director
CMD is a 501(c)(3) national watchdog and media group that conducts in-depth investigations into corruption and the undue influence of corporations on media and democracy. Our work is regularly cited by news outlets, policymakers, and grassroots activists working to build a more sustainable future and just society. CMD is reader-supportedPlease make your tax-deductible donation today. Thank you!

Follow us on social!

Subscribe
Donate
Our Work
Center for Media and Democracy
P.O. Box 259010  | Madison, Wisconsin 53725-9010
608-260-9713 | editor@prwatch.org
Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your web browser

October 10, 2021

“ALEC From a Biblical Worldview,” and Other News from CMD

Several education-related items in this Center for Media and Democracy newsletter.

This Week at CMD

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the right-wing, corporate pay-to-play bill-writing network, keeps lying. For years, ALEC has falsely claimed that it stays out of social issues, and the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) isn’t letting them off the hook.

This week we published a story about ALEC’s legislative leaders boasting of anti-abortion and anti-transgender bills in their states and a spinoff model legislation group whose founder called it “ALEC from a biblical worldview.”

We also exposed the Republican Attorneys General Association’s latest tactics.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Elections Commission failed to do its job, dismissing our complaint against ALEC for illegal campaign contributions in a split vote. The good news is that Connecticut has launched an investigation into ALEC’s practices, and last week the Maine Ethics Commission voted to investigate ALEC’s campaign software scheme. CMD Executive Director Arn Pearson testified during that hearing. We have upcoming hearings on our ALEC complaints in Minnesota (November) and Wisconsin (December).

CMD has filed an IRS complaint and 11 state complaints so far alleging that ALEC is engaged in illegal electioneering by donating valuable voter management software to its legislative members.

Here’s the latest!

The Latest From CMD

ALEC Leaders Boast About Anti-Abortion, Anti-Trans Bills

At a Council for National Policy conference in May, top legislative members of the American Legislative Exchange Council took credit for advancing bills to severely restrict abortion access and target trans students in their states.

Read More

Republicans AGs Expand Their Pay-to-Play Operation

The Republican Attorneys General Association has added another weapon to its arsenal of pay-to-play groups designed to influence state attorneys general and national policy.

Read More

We Need Your Help!

CMD depends on your generous contributions. Please consider donating today to help us uncover the Right’s lawbreaking and secret schemes.

Thank you!

If you’d like to send us a check, please mail it to:

Center for Media and Democracy
P.O. Box 259010
Madison, WI 53725-9010

CMD Around the Web

Local, state, and national outlets covered our recent work.

  • Salon: Joe Manchin has made $5.2M from his coal company — and gets big donations from fossil-fuel industry.
  • Counterpunch: Bickering Democrats Hurting Themselves.
  • The Young Turks: Manchin’s Coal Haul Tops $5 Million.
  • Religion Dispatches: Arkansas’ End Times Politics May Be Coming to a State Near You.
  • CT Insider: Dark money behind school board conflicts.
  • Baraboo News Republic: Redistricting needs to be fair.

More outlets covered the results of our complaint.

Thank you for supporting the Center for Media and Democracy and reading our work at Exposed by CMD! Have a great week.

Arn H. Pearson
Executive Director
CMD is a 501(c)(3) national watchdog and media group that conducts in-depth investigations into corruption and the undue influence of corporations on media and democracy. Our work is regularly cited by news outlets, policymakers, and grassroots activists working to build a more sustainable future and just society. CMD is reader-supportedPlease make your tax-deductible donation today. Thank you!

Follow us on social!

Subscribe
Donate
Our Work
Center for Media and Democracy
P.O. Box 259010  | Madison, Wisconsin 53725-9010
608-260-9713 | editor@prwatch.org
Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your web browser

October 5, 2021

Maine Ethics Commission Will Investigate ALEC, and Other News From CMD

An update on this item from the Center for Media and Democracy on ALEC.

This Week at CMD

The big news this week is that the Maine Ethics Commission has voted to investigate the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) campaign software scheme based on a complaint filed by CMD in July.

CMD has filed an IRS complaint and 11 state complaints so far alleging that ALEC, a corporate, pay-to-play bill-writing network, is engaged in illegal electioneering by donating valuable voter management software to its legislative members.

CMD Executive Director Arn Pearson testified yesterday during the commission’s hearing. While ALEC’s lawyer claimed the group’s legislative members only used the software for constituent services—even though it is exactly the same as a partisan campaign package that uses the tag line, “We Turn Data Into Votes”—the commission opted to investigate what the software actually does in order to determine whether ALEC broke campaign finance laws.

Prior to Maine, Connecticut launched an investigation into ALEC’s practices. Next week, three more preliminary hearings on CMD’s complaints against ALEC will take place in Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

This week we also have stories for you about ALEC’s funders, GOP megadonor Art Pope’s role in helping Republicans rig future elections, and Pfizer’s donations to extremist anti-vax politicians.

Here’s the latest!

The Latest From CMD

Maine Ethics Commission Will Investigate ALEC Campaign Software Scheme

The Maine Ethics Commission voted to authorize an investigation into whether the ALEC violated state campaign finance laws by providing valuable voter management software to its legislative members for free as a “membership benefit.”

Read More

Here’s Who Funds the Right-Wing American Legislative Exchange Council

A CMD investigation reveals the identities of the donors behind a large portion of ALEC’s revenue as the group continues its attempts to hide its backers and its agenda from the public.

Read More

Please Support Us!

Donate now and help CMD keep the heat on ALEC.

Thank you!

If you’d like to send us a check, please mail it to:

Center for Media and Democracy
P.O. Box 259010
Madison, WI 53725-9010

GOP Megadonor Art Pope Plays Leading Role in GOP Gerrymandering Operation

GOP megadonor and power broker Art Pope has gone all-in to help Republicans rig elections in their favor for the next decade.

Read More

Pfizer Gave Money to Arizona Legislators Speaking at Anti-Vaxxer QAnon Conference

Pfizer likely may not have its executives at the QAnon conference in Las Vegas on Oct. 22-25, but three Arizona legislators it gave money to will be there as “special guests” and speakers.

Read More

CMD Around the Web

Reverend Doctor William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, cited our recent story about a new MAGA voter suppression center.

  • Time: Democrats Must Pass Voting Rights Protections, But They Can’t Codify a Lie.

U.S. senators cited our work in their new publication 

  • Senate Democrats: “Captured Courts: The Republican Judicial Assault on Reproductive Rights

The Bangor Daily News covered the Maine Ethics Commission’s decision to launch an investigation.

  • Bangor Daily News: Jared Golden wants Democrats to go it alone to raise the debt ceiling

More national, state, and local publications referenced our reporting:

  • The Guardian: Top Republicans rub shoulders with extremists in secretive rightwing group, leak reveals
  • The Guardian: Joe Manchin, America’s climate decider-in-chief, is a coal baron
  • The Nation: Joe Manchin, America’s climate decider-in-chief, is a coal baron
  • Business Insider: One of the most secretive and powerful groups in GOP politics just had its cellphone numbers leaked. Here’s what its members said about Trump 2024 when we started calling.
  • Bucks County Courier Times: Bucks County GOP must reject militias, QAnon, Proud Boys, and other extremism
  • Casper Star-Tribune: ALEC still in action
  • Truth or Fiction: How to Fight Disinformation — Part III: Distraction
Thank you for supporting the Center for Media and Democracy and reading our work at Exposed by CMD! Have a great week.

Arn H. Pearson
Executive Director
CMD is a 501(c)(3) national watchdog and media group that conducts in-depth investigations into corruption and the undue influence of corporations on media and democracy. Our work is regularly cited by news outlets, policymakers, and grassroots activists working to build a more sustainable future and just society. CMD is reader-supportedPlease make your tax-deductible donation today. Thank you!

Follow us on social!

Subscribe
Donate
Our Work
Center for Media and Democracy
P.O. Box 259010  | Madison, Wisconsin 53725-9010
608-260-9713 | editor@prwatch.org
Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your web browser

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